Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Enrico's shootout goal turns the tide for Suns

Suns sweep Seattle Indians 5-3 (OT), 10-8

Express Staff Writer

Suns wing Ryan Enrico backhands the puck past Seattle goalie Wayne Floyd for the game winner in Friday's overtime shootout on resort ice. Photo by Willy Cook

Backed into a corner and facing his imminent demise in the 1931 film "Little Caesar," actor Edward G. Robinson's Caesare Rico Bandello gangster uttered the timeless question, now 78 years old, "Mother of Mercy! Is this the end of Rico?"

The Sun Valley Suns senior men's hockey team—backed into a corner and facing its third consecutive overtime loss—felt a little like Rico Bandello Friday night during an evenly-matched game with the Seattle Indians on resort ice.

But a Jersey Boy with the nickname of Rico put the pedal to the metal and rode to the rescue with the third game-winning shootout goal of his six-year Suns career.

Hoboken's Ryan Enrico, his ears ringing with cheers of pre-teen fans in the mezzanine yelling at the top of their lungs "Rico!," hurtled down the ice in his compact, let-it-all-loose style and backhanded the overtime shootout game-winning goal. It sent the Suns and fans into an overdue celebration.

Sun Valley (7-7-0), also getting a shootout goal from wing Blake Jenson and two shootout saves by goalie Ryan Thomson, beat the Seattle (Wash.) Indians 5-3 snapping a three-game losing skid—two of the losses coming in overtime to the Missoula (Mt.) Cutthroats Feb. 13-14.

Held scoreless in the second period and trailing 3-2 for much of the third, the Suns might not have made it into overtime if not for the alert forechecking of captain Chris Warrington on the power play with seven minutes left in the tight game.

Warrington, idle for over a month after missing the Missoula series, blocked an Indians clearing pass with his body and kept the puck in the Indians zone. Chasing down the puck was wing Enrico. He centered it to center Billy Tryder for only the seventh Suns power-play goal in 14 games—and the first since Jan. 17.

Fired up, the Suns just missed excellent chances for the game winner in the final minute of regulation—Jon Duval's cannon shot on a feed from Paul Baranzelli, and Baranzelli's bid from the side of the net on a pass from Duval—denied by goalie Wayne Floyd.

It set the stage for Enrico's heroics. Then, in a wild nightcap Saturday played by the back-up goalies, the Suns climbed to the .500 level with a 10-8 triumph. In a back-and-forth contest the home team turned a 6-4 deficit into an 8-6 lead with four unanswered goals early in the third period, the first scored by Enrico and the tying goal by Tryder.

Two goals by Warrington and the first-ever Suns goal by defenseman Matt Alloway secured the victory for goalie Mat Gershater (39 saves).

Coming up, the Suns are due to entertain the Vancouver (B.C., Canada) Moto Ice Friday and Saturday, March 6-7 at 7 p.m. at Sun Valley Skating Center. Check today's Express Web site for a weekend game summary and updated statistics.

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